The egg carton traces its origins to the early twentieth century

The egg carton traces its origins to the early twentieth century

Eggs reach in six sizes—jumbo, extra-mountainous, mountainous, medium, little, and peewee—and in three grades—AA, A, and B (grades are United States classifications that rate the egg’s exterior and interior quality factors). Essentially based totally on the United States Department of Agriculture, egg production in the US totaled 9.66 billion right through December 2021, which incorporated 8.38 billion eggs headed for shoppers’ tables (“Chickens and Eggs,” January 19, 2022). That’s a range of eggs laid, packed, and shipped. 

Eggs are a very breakable commodity that must be treated effectively as they have their approach to our meals market shelves. Packing eggs properly has a large financial impact, too. In the March 1921 divulge of Printer’s Ink Monthly, it became as soon as reported that 67,000,000 instances of eggs had been produced in the United States and had been price bigger than $1,200,000,000. The American Railway Teach Firm—a nationwide equipment delivery carrier that operated in the United States from 1918 to 1975—well-known that its egg breakage claims exceeded $100,000 a month and that worthy of the egg breakage became as soon as as a end result of utilizing contaminated packing enviornment matter (Printer’s Ink Monthly, net page 83). By these days’s standards, that is seemingly to be a whopping $1.5 million in month-to-month breakage claims. 

There are a full bunch of patented egg carrier, egg case, egg basket, and egg carton inventions in the United States that sought to resolve the problem of the approach to derive eggs from the farm to the person without breaking. Many egg adverts used phrases such as “no losses,” “no more broken eggs,” “most receive case round,” “quit your breakage losses,” and “why eradicate possibilities?” to entice egg producers to make expend of their packaging product for shipment. 

The contemporary egg carton that we discover in the meals market these days is made either from polystyrene plastic or molded pulp/cardboard, which is a renewable, biodegradable uncooked enviornment matter made from timber. It is far mostly a flat tray with an attached lid designed to retain 12 to 18 eggs, however eggs weren’t repeatedly packaged this device. Nowadays’s egg cartons impress their origins to the early 20th century, with quite a bit of folk from Mountainous Britain, Canada, and the United States contributing improvements to its look and final recognition.

Earlier than the molded paper egg carton seemed, there possess been baskets, tubs, and wood crates or instances that toted, kept, and transported eggs, such because the aptly named “Humpty Dumpty” folding egg crate made by Cummer Manufacturing Firm of Cadillac, Michigan. Canadian born Herbert Harvey Cummer (1860–1918) invented a crate (US Patent 515,196) in 1894 that grew to become effectively known for its crimson prime rail and for keeping  three, six, 9, 12, or 15 dozen eggs. Fabricated from birch, beech, or maple wood, farmers and poultrymen would salvage a shipment of eggs in a Humpty Dumpty crate after which “knock it down” and return it by mail. By 1906, Cummer determined to realize bigger his production opportunities beyond Michigan and opened a plant in Paris, Texas, to fabricate the folding crates, that possess been also used for fruits and greens.  

Standardization of the wood egg case became as soon as presented by John L. and George W. Stevens of San Francisco with their improved case for transporting eggs (US Patent 62,378) in 1867. The case became as soon as designed to retain 30 dozen (360) eggs, kept in 12 trays of 30 eggs every. Each and every egg had its salvage compartment with a preserving apart horizontal diaphragm between every tier, from the underside to the end of the case. Many wood crates and instances had been stuffed with strawboard, straw, honeycomb, and other fillers to make a “cushion.” 

James Okay. Ashley patented a case and box machine in 1902 (US Patent 695,364) that “lickety-split assisted in cleating the ends of egg-instances and making lids.” In 1925 Ashley patented his egg case machine (US Patent 1,544,878), an improvement of his old machine. 

Factual packaging for eggs had many advantages, including less raze from spoiling, greater handling, efficiencies in storing and show on retailer shelves, quicker gross sales with less weighing and wrapping, and standardization and uniformity. And, the equipment itself would possibly presumably promote the product with printed trademarks and slogans of manufacturers and the selling agents.

As paper mills started to realize bigger in the early 20th century, “Pulp-making grew to become almost an just department of the [paper] industry, increasing into a enterprise of large dimensions and serving many lines of fabricate reasonably besides that of purely paper making” (Weeks, net page 288). The main device for molding wood pulp seemed in 1890; in 1903, a machine to fabricate articles from molded pulp became as soon as patented by Martin L. Keyes (US Patent 740,023) from Cambridge, Massachusetts (Oliaei, Lindström, and Berglund, net page 3). Keyes became as soon as a student of pulp and pulp merchandise all his existence. In 1903, he based the Keyes Fibre Firm in Fairfield, Maine, with a later expansion to Waterville, Maine, where he manufactured papyrus pie plates and persevered to perform and patent equipment for molding pulp articles. “By the end of the nineteenth century there had reach into existence a full industry of makers of extremely of direction expert equipment to set all sorts of merchandise into cans, containers, envelopes, jars, bottles, tins, and tubes bearing labels or printed pictures and message” (Porter, net page 27).

Fresh materials and better manufacturing programs had been adopted by the egg industry. The main known contemporary egg carton is credited to Thomas Peter Bethell, a cardboard box producer in Liverpool, England. In 1903, Bethell patented an improved device for packing eggs in carboard cylinders for transit by put up or rail (UK Patent GB190221677A). Essentially based totally on the The Dairy (October 1900), Bethell became as soon as known for his prize-a hit butter programs and “specimens of his postal containers for perishable merchandise of every description, folding instances for butter, cheese, and bottles, round containers and folding cardboard containers of every description or for every cause” (The Dairy, net page 293). The Raylite Egg Field, created by Bethell, advertised that protection for excessive-priced eggs right through transit became as soon as a big need and utilizing a Raylite box “insures in opposition to breakage” (Poultry Recordsdata, net page 169).

One “paperman” who joined the ranks of the pulp industry became as soon as Joseph Leopold Coyle (1871–1972), a Canadian painter, surveyor, reporter, businessman (he based the newspapers Omineca Herald, Bulkey Pioneer, and Inner Recordsdata in British Columbia, Canada), and inventor. Coyle patented his egg carton first in Canada (Canadian Patent CA181662A) on January 15, 1918, and in the United States (US Patent 1,269,394), on June 11, 1918.  It is far broadly documented that the invention became as soon as the consequences of a debate over broken eggs between a farmer and a hotel proprietor in the neighborhood of Coyle’s newspaper station of job. 

Is named the Coyle Security Egg Carton, production started in Vancouver, British Columbia, with United Paper Products, and later moved to Los Angeles, where Coyle produced the carton himself under the title Coyle Paper Field Firm. He then joined with Leon Benoit (1878–1957), a fellow Canadian, inventor, and businessman to perform the cartons in Chicago and Fresh York under the title Coyle Security Carton Firm (also known because the Egg Security Carton Firm). Coyle would set quite a bit of of his patents to the firm of which Benoit became as soon as president. Coyle expanded the production and fabricate of the carton to the Grant Paper Field Firm (Indiana and Pittsburgh); in Toronto on the Colette Sproule Firm; and in London, Ontario with Somerville Industries. In 1947, Robert Gair, Firm, Inc., which had manufactured the total Egg Security Carton Firm cartons from 1932 to 1944, sold the Egg Security Carton Firm (Confectionary Ice Cream World Weekly, net page 32). 

Constructing on Coyle’s work had been Morris Koppelman (1872–1951?) and Francis H. Sherman. Essentially based totally on the 1920 United States Federal Census, Koppelman, a tailor from Russia, arrived in the United States in 1891. He invented a waistband (US Patent 729,072) in 1903 and a coat collar (US Patent 922,434) in 1909, promoting the latter along with his enterprise accomplice, Leon Mann of the Leon Mann Firm, under the title “Presto Collar.” How Koppelman made the soar from tailoring and garments to egg packaging, I don’t know, however he became as soon as clearly inventive, patenting an egg-packing plan in 1921 (US Patent 1,378,469); this became as soon as the main of a string of inventions for packing fragile articles). Sherman’s egg carton/carrier (US Patent 1,588,857) from 1926 facilitated computerized machine packing of eggs into the carton and resembled most intently the contemporary egg carton we learn in the meals market these days. 

No egg dialogue would possibly presumably be complete without declaring Mary Engle Pennington (1872–1952), chemist, bacteriologist, and refrigeration engineer. Denied a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the College of Pennsylvania in 1892 (ladies weren’t allowed to salvage levels, only certificates!), she would indirectly perform a PhD in chemistry from Penn in 1895 and possess a large and impactful occupation in meals security.  

Harvey W. Wiley, the Chief of the USDA’s Bureau of Chemistry, used his allocation from the Pure Meals and Drugs Act of 1906 to hire meals inspectors and to make the Meals Be taught Laboratory. He inspired his colleague and friend, Pennington, to practice for the space and lead the laboratory. Pennington’s tutorial and work-linked trip made her the particular candidate. Wiley obtained the Civil Provider exam results (Pennington scored highest), modified her title to learn “M. E. Pennington,” and equipped her the job. When the Civil Provider realized she became as soon as no longer a man, they informed Wiley there became as soon as no precedent for hiring a woman. Wiley answered that there became as soon as equally no precedent for no longer hiring any individual honest as a end result of she became as soon as female. Pennington prevailed (Robinson, net page 146).

Pennington wrote sections on “What Is an Egg?” and “The Fresh Abilities of Frigid and Cleanliness” for the 2-quantity situation, Eggs, edited by Paul Mandeville and printed for the “Century of Development” Chicago world’s gorgeous in 1933. She became as soon as issued five patents from 1912 to 1933 linked to eggs and poultry. In Mothers and Daughters of Invention, student Autumn Stanley well-known that “Pennington designed a contemporary more or less breakage-reducing packing case” for eggs (Stanley, net page 52; Yost, net page 94). Despite the indisputable truth that this construct became as soon as never patented, Pennington’s work on refrigeration and her pastime in safely transporting and storing perishable meals such as eggs in all probability led her to possess in thoughts egg packaging. 

Now, as soon as your eggs are safely home and possess been enjoyed, you would reuse expend the carton for insulation, sorting objects, starting up plant seedlings, keeping paints, and even teaching arithmetic. That’s a range of utility for one molded fragment of pulp.


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  • The Irish Home, The Organ of Irish Agricultural and Industrial Development 18, no. 15 (April 15, 1911). 
  • “Leon Benoit, 79, Head of Egg-Carton Firm,” Fresh York Times, September 11, 1957. 
  • Nationwide Utility Poultry Society. Poultry Recordsdata and Yearbook. London, 1918. 
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  • Porter, Glenn. “Cultural Forces and Commercial Constraints: Designing Packaging in the Twentieth-Century United States.” Journal of Build Historical past 12, no. 1 (1999). 
  • Reese, Chester. “Making the most of Vitality and Resourcefulness.“ The Dodge ConceptionA Journal of Industrial Development 28, no. 8 (August 1912): 869. 
  • Robinson, Lisa Mae. “Regulating What We Expend: Mary Engle Pennington and the Meals Be taught Laboratory.” Agricultural Historical past 64, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 143-1953. 
  • Sherril, Lynn. “Who Invented the Egg Carton?” British Columbia Historical Recordsdata 15, no. 3 (Spring 1982): 22-23.
  • Stanley, Autumn. Mothers and Daughters of Invention: Notes for A Revised Historical past of Abilities. Fresh Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers College Press, 1993. 
  • United States Department of Agriculture, Nationwide Agricultural Statistics Provider, “Chickens and Eggs,” ISSN: 1948-9064, January 19, 2022. . Accessed March 3, 2022.
  • Weeks, Lyman Horace. A Historical past of Paper-Manufacturing in the United States, 1690-1916. Fresh York: The Lockwood Change Journal Firm, 1916. 
  • Yost, Edna. “Mary Engle Penington, The Ideal Authority on the Refrigeration of Perishable Meals,” chapter 5, American Ladies of Science (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1943): 80-98.

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